In the aftermath of his party's special election loss in Florida, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel refused to blame his candidate. Instead, he doubled down on her prospects to win in the fall.
"I believe if Alex Sink decides to run, she will win in November," Israel said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning. "We will do everything — and I mean everything — to support her in that endeavor."
Sink came up 2 points short Tuesday against Republican Rep.-elect David Jolly. Whether or not Sink runs again is unclear.
"I did call her last night and left a message," Israel said. "My message was, I think she ran a great race and if this election were in November versus March, I believe she would have won, and I encouraged her to speak with us about continuing this campaign to victory in November."
"I have not heard back from her," he added. Israel declined to name any candidates who might run if Sink opts against another try.
"This is just the day after the special, so we haven't started thinking about who else may be viable," Israel said. "I am hopeful that Alex and I can talk soon."
There is recent precedent for a candidate who loses a special election to decide not to seek the seat in the regularly scheduled election. In 2012, Arizona Republican Jesse Kelly stepped aside after he lost his June special against Democrat Ron Barber. But Israel's comments were far more encouraging than Kelly's party leadership after that loss.
Israel tried hard to mitigate the negative commentary against his party in the call, even as the race was pegged by political analyst Stu Rothenberg as one Democrats couldn't "afford to lose ." Still, Israel conceded that the loss stung.
"I'm a Mets fan," Israel said. "I'd rather lose by 13 [to] nothing than 13 to 11. And we got a 13-11 game."